Thursday, March 31, 2011

Women & Media

If we don't tell our stories, if we don't support other women - in business, the arts, governance, everywhere - who will?

Business Women without Business Cards

Are business cards a thing of the past? Are people so concerned about saving the rain forests that they no longer carry anything printed with them?

I was in a meeting with 12 to 15 other business women the other day and fully 2/3 of them did not have business cards. It seemed odd to me, but maybe I am just a product of my generation and not far-sighted enough?

It would be interesting to know what others think about this.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Women & Business

Among professional women, it’s a dirty little secret that in the business world (and probably elsewhere as well), women do not support each other.

It seems there is a sense of scarcity among us – “if she gets promoted, it’s a missed opportunity for me”, or “if I recommend her to my client XYZ, her communications and her work reflect on me, and if it’s poor, I may lose my client”. Heard something like that before? Maybe thought it yourself?

Well, I’ve decided to do something about it!

When Star Jones and Dionne Warwick, on the March 13 episode of Celebrity Apprentice threw Project Manager Lisa Rinna under the bus, I posted about this on Facebook the next day. Comments started coming in, including this one: “So sad to see women sabotaging other women. Whatever happened to women supporting other women?” To which I responded: “That's exactly what I have been asking since at least 1992 (the year I started Atlanta Women in Business). Not only must we support one another - we must also do whatever we can to promote one another. Here's an offer: free 'promo' to my mailing list for the first person (make that "woman") to respond to this.”

And who was that first woman? Barbara Giamanco!

Funny, in a sense, since Barb is already very well known nationally, with her first book published last year, and owns a burgeoning consulting, coaching and speaking business. So, does she need a free promo? Probably not, but Barb’s success in the business world has not come from being last in line, or even being second. She keeps up with her community, interacts constantly with friends and associates, and when she spotted my offer, she jumped for it. Smart, very smart!

Expect to hear more about Barb from me in the coming weeks. For now, check out her “Get LinkedIn, not Locked Out” April 14 workshop.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It all started with Lisa Rinna

And Star Jones and Dionne Warwick – the March 13, 2011 segment of Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” – and was about as ugly an example of women sabotaging each other as I have seen in the nearly twenty years since I started Atlanta Women in Business.

I posted an observation on Facebook. It drew attention. People (women!) began commenting. And then I posted “Not only must we support one another - we must also do whatever we can to promote one another. Here's an offer: free 'promo' to my mailing list for the first person (make that "woman") to respond to this.”

Out of 322 people in my community and four participating in the discussion, Barb Giamanco was that first person. Stick with me as I make good on my promise. Not contrived. Rather, fully sincere. I’ll be back as soon as I’ve spoken with her.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Women & Equality

How long have we been talking about this? Too long!

It’s been nearly 20 years since I started Atlanta Women in Business to help women in the workplace find equality. With a mission of providing networking and educational opportunities, we have made some progress, but not nearly enough.

Last year, I had an op-ed in the paper on the minimum wage and was interviewed on TV about the Lilly Ledbetter Act and received some attention for my network and its efforts, but equality as a normal, everyday thing we don’t even have to think about remains elusive.

I experienced that gap last week, when a business weekly published an article about Social Media, for which the writer had interviewed at least five practitioners (five were quoted in the article) – all men! To add insult to injury, the writer was a woman.

Well, that was last week. This week, award winning social media marketing strategist Toby Bloomberg deserves our attention. She has started Atlanta Social Media Women, with an immediate membership of 29 (yes, I’m among them!) and a determination to make some noise and get some attention.

Way to go, Toby!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day 2011

Atlanta Women in Business recognized the day early: last night already.

The fifteen women who met in Sandy Springs for an evening of “stories from around the world” personified one of the organization’s three values, authenticity (the other two are diversity and inclusiveness). With authentic voices, stories were told that made us think, hit us on the pit of our stomachs and reminded us that while we have come far, women’s equality is still not within our grasp.

“Personal identity”, and its accompanying financial security, was one story-teller’s theme. Even today, American women, especially in the South, are not infrequently referred to as “Mrs. Richard Smith”, “Mrs. William Jones”, etc.

Other story-tellers mentioned 26-year old Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia, who self-immolated last December and started a revolution, and 61-year old Maria Aguinda of Ecuador, who took on the oil industry that continues to massively pollute the environment - and won. One person can make a difference, one small gesture can cause a shift that reverberates over great distances.

We followed one family, expelled from Spain in the 15th century, on its journey from country to country, steps ahead of religious persecutors. Small wonder that last night’s story-telling descendant owns a travel business!

And, speaking of travel, there is the worldwide organization that used to be the exclusive domain of captains of industry and rulers of chiefdoms, where women, including our story-teller, now make a difference, benefiting all.

The fifteen of us decided to continue the conversation, in person and through Social Media, and bring others along. Atlanta Women in Business’s Facebook page and LinkedIn group are tools that will help facilitate this.

Last night also gave us a poignant reminder of life as its ebbs and flows affect us: one member has just buried her mother, after a long and painful illness, and another is experiencing her first pregnancy, with a feisty little girl making her presence known already months before birth.

It was a wonderful evening.